Starting this month, the Midweek Meditation will feature thoughts written by some of the pastors who have been associated with our church in various ways.
“Who Do You Say That I Am?”
Honestly, there are probably very few people in Dalton, GA, who would be interested to hear First
Presbyterian Church’s answer to the question Jesus asked his disciples, ”Who do people say that I am?”
The first disciples answered, “John the Baptist raised from the dead, Elijah, or one of the other
There might be more people in Dalton, GA, who would be interested to hear First Presbyterian
Church’s answer to the follow-up question, which Jesus asked his disciples, ”Who do you say that I
am?” And so, you are invited to meditate on the second question. To provoke your thought, you are offered the answer that one twenty-first century Christian gave to the second question.
Marcus Borg (1942-2015), New Testament scholar and author, was asked on the “Today Show” on
Good Friday 1995 to state in a minute and fifteen seconds (his interview time slot) “What was Jesus
like?” Here is his response:
Jesus was from the peasant class. Clearly he was brilliant. His use of language was remarkable
and poetic, filled with images and stories. He had a metaphoric mind. He was not an ascetic, but
world-affirming, with a zest for life. There was a sociopolitical passion to him,—like a Gandhi or a
Martin Luther King, he challenged the domination system of his day. He was a religious ecstatic, a
Jewish mystic, for whom God was an experiential reality. As such, Jesus was also a healer. And there
seems to have been a spiritual presence around him, like that reported of St. Francis or the present
Dalai Lama. And as a figure of history, Jesus was an ambiguous figure—you could experience him and
conclude that he was insane, as his family did, or that he was simply eccentric or that he was a
dangerous threat—or you could conclude that he was filled with the “Spirit of God.” (cited in Jesus:
Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary, by Marcus J. Borg,
Dr. Borg was a professor at Oregon State University, whose scholarly focus was the person, Jesus, in
history. At the same time he was an active lay member of the Christian Church, who affirmed the core
doctrinal teachings of the Church. He, nevertheless, observed that the Church’s understandable
emphasis on a doctrinal interpretation of “who Jesus was and is,” has had an unfortunate consequence of lessening the possibility for people to appreciate the truly remarkable historical figure, whom Jesus was.
What do you think? Might there be people in Dalton, GA, who would like to hear First Presbyterian
Church’s answer to Jesus’ question to his first disciples: ”Who do you say that I am?”
You are invited to meditate on your answer to the question, which Jesus asked those who would follow
Submitted at our request by The Rev. Dick Neelly, First Presbyterian Church of Dalton Interim Pastor in 2006-07.